In 2004, California banned the “force feed[ing of] a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size." John Burton—now head of California Democratic Party—championed the law, which will take effect July 1, 2012. Sonoma Foie Gras—the only foie gras factory farm in the state—supported the prohibition because the law allowed for ample time to find an alternative to force feeding. Company owner Guillermo Gonzalez wrote in 2004, “I have the moral stature to accept that if within the seven and a half years established by SB 1520, science and government don’t arrive to the conclusion that the methods used in our foie gras production are acceptable…I will be ready to quit.”
“We asked the governor to sign the bill.”
– Guillermo Gonzalez, owner of Sonoma Foie Gras, on his 2004 letter supporting CA’s force feeding ban.
Behavioral evidence suggests ducks and geese experience fear, as well as acute and chronic stress from the multiple daily force feedings and the pain associated with them. Force feeding causes a number of injuries: bruising or perforation of the esophagus; hemorrhaging and inflammation of the neck resulting from the repeated insertion of the pipe to the throat; and asphyxia caused by food improperly forced into the trachea. Wounds of the esophagus may subsequently become infected. Force feeding also results in numerous illnesses and disease, including hepatic lipidosis, bacterial and fungal infections, malnourishment, and lameness. For these reasons, mortality rates for force-feed ducks are 10 to 20 times higher than those for non-force fed ducks.
“The force feeding of ducks and geese for the production of foie gras is a cruel and inhumane practice that should be banned.”
– Dr. Ian J.H. Duncan, Emeritus Chair in Animal Welfare, University of Guelph
According to a 2004 Zogby poll, 77 percent of US adults believe the process of force feeding ducks or geese to produce foie gras should be banned. In California, well over 95% of restaurants do not serve foie gras. Several cities throughout California have passed resolutions condemning foie gras, including: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Berkeley, West Hollywood, Carlsbad, Solana Beach, and Laguna Woods. Additionally, several restaurants and retailers—such as Costco, Safeway, Target, Giant Eagle, Whole Foods Market and Wolfgang Puck—refuse to sell foie gras.